Old Traf­ford isn’t scary any more for City, says Guardi­ola

Evening Times - - PREMIER LEAGUE -

PEP Guardi­ola be­lieves Old Traf­ford is no longer scary for Manch­ester City.

City suf­fered a lot at the home of their neigh­bours Manch­ester United prior to their takeover by Shiekh Man­sour, fail­ing to regis­ter a vic­tory there between 1974 and 2008.

That has changed re­cently and City – who head across town for a cru­cial derby to­day – have lost just once there in their last seven Pre­mier League vis­its.

City boss Guardi­ola said: “I don’t make the­o­ries about what hap­pened in the past or for what is going to hap­pen in the fu­ture. Ev­ery game is com­pletely dif­fer­ent from the previous one.

“The most important rea­son why is maybe the fact this club, in the last decade, grew a lot and that is why it is not scary to go there when be­fore it was more dif­fi­cult.

“The play­ers Manch­ester City have had in the last 10 sea­sons have made this game a little bit more equal when be­fore the gap was big­ger. Maybe that is the rea­son but hon­estly I don’t know.”

This week’s en­counter could have huge im­pli­ca­tions in the ti­tle race. A win for City would take them back to the top of the table having played the same number of games as ti­tle ri­vals Liver­pool. With three matches to go, they would then be clear favourites for the crown.

There is plenty at stake for United as well, how­ever. Ole Gun­nar Sol­sk­jaer’s side need points in their battle for a top-four place and they also need to re­store pride after their 4-0 hum­bling at Ever­ton on Sun­day.

City have pre­vi­ously been ac­cused of ‘tac­ti­cal foul­ing’ to pre­vent counter-at­tacks when they are press­ing high up the pitch, and Sol­sk­jaer ex­pects to see that tonight.

“We have got to be ready for the press and the qual­ity they have got on the ball,” he said. “When we win it we have got to be ready for their ag­gres­sion be­cause they will snap at your an­kles and heels and kick you.

“They will not al­low us easy counter-at­tack­ing. There will be fouls, no doubt about it.”

The Nor­we­gian has over­seen four de­feats in six since tak­ing the job full-time. Asked if he could turn it around, he said: “I’d like to say yes. It’s not down to me to say that but I’m con­fi­dent in my team and I’m ready to take on the chal­lenge.”

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